July 31, 2019

Senate Passes Van Hollen Bill to Authorize Honorary Promotion of Bethesda Veteran Charles McGee

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced the Senate passage of his legislation to authorize the honorary promotion of Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee, United States Air Force to Brigadier General. Col. McGee, a resident of Bethesda, Md., served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, completing 136 combat missions. He completed an additional 100 combat missions in the Korean Conflict and 173 combat missions in the Vietnam War, amassing a record three-war total of combat missions – 409 – of any Air Force fighter pilot, with 100 missions or more in each. Col. McGee completed a distinguished 30-year career in the United States Air Force, serving in numerous leadership and command capacities and becoming the first African American to command a stateside Air Force Wing and Base. Now that the legislation to authorize the promotion has been passed by the Senate, it will head to the House of Representatives.

“Charles McGee's service to our nation is truly remarkable and fully merits this distinguished recognition. I was proud to see the Senate come together on a bipartisan basis and unanimously pass this legislation to provide Col. McGee with this honor. I will keep working with my colleagues in the House to get this done as soon as possible for Col. McGee and his family,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“We are delighted that the honorary promotion is moving forward. Our father's achievements are most worthy of this recognition. His life of service is an example and inspiration to all,” said Charlene McGee-Smith PhD, biographer and Col. McGee’s oldest daughter.

Yvonne McGee, Col. McGee’s youngest daughter said, “Our hearts are overflowing with joy that Dad's long overdue promotion is finally coming to fruition. For a man whose entire life has been in service to God and country, attaining this, from representatives of the same institution that 78 years ago wanted to limit his participation in the American dream, is the perfect way for a grateful nation to say ' thank you'. We are so proud of our Senator Van Hollen, whose support and tenacity was key in making this possible and the best present ever for Dad's upcoming 100th birthday!”

In March, the Secretary of the Air Force determined that Col. McGee is qualified for and merits an honorary promotion to Brigadier General. Now, Congress must enact legislation authorizing the President to issue the promotion. The text of Senator Van Hollen’s legislation authorizing the promotion can be found here.